Traveling with young children is rarely pleasant, but it becomes an even bigger ordeal when the plane experiences scary, and sometimes dangerous, bouts of turbulence. Five United Airlines passengers were hospitalized in Montana on Monday and an infant was thrown from a parent's arms when the plane suddenly dropped as it was preparing to make a landing. Thank goodness the baby was unharmed despite landing two rows back, though you can only imagine the fright both child and parent felt.

The airline is reporting that three crew members and two passengers were injured -- one woman hit her head so hard on the ceiling that she cracked the overhead panel! As of yesterday, all but one flight attendant had been released from the hospital. The baby who was thrown was NOT among the passengers taken to the hospital.

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If you've flown with a baby, you know that FAA regulations allow adults to hold one child on their laps during the flight. Of course, this is helpful in that it allows parents to avoid paying full fare for a seat for their very young child. But an incident like the one that took place on United Airlines should open our eyes to the possibility that lap riding may not be the safest option for our children.

I actually avoided flying with my little one when she was an infant because the idea of keeping her on my lap the entire time seemed insane. If sudden turbulence strikes, you can shoot right up out of your seat without warning. You aren't prepared and holding your child tight enough to prevent injury -- and even if I were holding my child tight, I don't trust that I'm strong enough to keep her from getting hurt.

Moms and dads traveling with babies should be given the bulkhead seat. It should be required that they have a car seat or small bassinet with them so that the child has a safer place to sit when turbulence occurs. If this isn't feasible, parents should seriously consider paying for an extra seat -- many airlines offer discounted rates for children under a certain age, usually 2 -- and strap the child in a car seat on the actual plane seat.

Have you ever traveled with your baby? Does this incident change your mind about holding a child on your lap during flights?

 

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